Intrusive Thoughts: What Are Hot Thoughts And How to Regulate

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted hot thoughts that may not represent reality. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted hot thoughts that may not represent reality. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)

Unwanted thoughts that seem to appear out of nowhere are called intrusive thoughts. They may disturb you and are unpleasant. These thoughts are typically difficult to regulate, and a person may discover that they divert attention from routine chores.

Typically, they pose no threat. However, if your obsession with them causes you to miss out on normal activities, this may indicate a mental health issue. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), sadness, and anxiety all have symptoms that can include intrusive thoughts.

While they may not pose actual threat, they can cause a lot of exhaustion and dissonance. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)
While they may not pose actual threat, they can cause a lot of exhaustion and dissonance. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)

What are Intrusive Thoughts? How are They Caused?

How unwanted thoughts play out can differ from person to person. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)
How unwanted thoughts play out can differ from person to person. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)

Hot thoughts appear out of nowhere and generate a tremendous deal of concern. Unwanted intrusive thoughts frequently contain violent or socially undesirable images. People with unwelcome thoughts are terrified of committing the activities they envision in their minds.

They are also concerned that their thoughts indicate something negative about them. Repeated concerns about relationships, minor and large decisions, religion, death, gender orientation, identity, or worries about matters that cannot be answered with clarity are examples of unwanted intrusive thoughts.

Anyone can have intrusive thoughts, and not everyone who does so is diagnosed with anything. Among the potential reasons are:

1) Anxiety

A person may have a variety of intrusive thoughts when they are temporarily anxious, such as how they might feel before undergoing a medical procedure. These could include the idea of passing away or becoming hurt.


2) Disorders of anxiety

Disorders with rumination as the key feature often have the tendency to have hot thoughts. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)
Disorders with rumination as the key feature often have the tendency to have hot thoughts. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)

Intruding thoughts are a common symptom of anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Compulsions, or ritualistic behaviors, are used by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder sufferers to control these thoughts.


3) PTSD: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Those with PTSD may have recurring, disturbing memories of a terrible event. Some of the symptoms they experienced during the event may reoccur.


4) Intrusive thoughts related to eating disorders

Thoughts about their body, diet, or the drive to be flawless are common in people with eating disorders. They might have food-related anxiety.

A thought—even a terrifying thought—is not an instinct, in actuality. Overcontrol, not poor impulse control, is the issue. They are on different sides of the continuum. However, many who experience it are tricked by their fears and are anxious for confirmation.

Reassurance, though, only lasts for so long until someone develops a dependence on it. Reducing one's sensitivity to obsessive thoughts is the only way to properly cope with them. Not by getting comfortable in the knowledge that it won't occur or is untrue.


How To Deal With Intrusive Thoughts?

Is there a way to deal with these hot thoughts? (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)
Is there a way to deal with these hot thoughts? (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)

Getting involved with unwanted thoughts, worrying about them, battling them, or attempting to rationalize them away just contributes to strengthening them. By attempting to avoid them, they become stronger as well.

The thoughts will eventually vanish into the background if you ignore them and act as though they aren't even interested. Here are some actions you can take to alter your mindset and get rid of unwanted thoughts:

  • Give these ideas the label of "intrusive thoughts"
  • Remind yourself that these are involuntary ideas and not your own
  • Accept the thoughts and let them enter your head. Try not to shoo them away
  • Float and get comfortable letting time pass
  • Pause and adapt your schedule.
  • Be prepared for the thoughts to return
  • Allow the anxiety to exist while doing what you were doing before the intrusive thought appeared.

It may be challenging. However, there is a good possibility that anyone who continues to use it for just a few weeks will see a reduction in the severity and frequency of thoughts that are unwelcome.


The image or thought may be unsettling, but it typically has no clear significance. Keep this in mind. If the thought doesn't make you want to do anything and you can carry on with your day without difficulty, it's generally nothing to be concerned about.

People who experience intrusive thoughts have to develop a new relationship with their thoughts, understanding that sometimes their contents are unnecessary and irrelevant. that everyone occasionally has strange, odd, inappropriately violent ideas.

Talk to a mental health specialist about your experiences of thoughts getting in the way of your daily life. Getting treatment can make it easier to control unwanted intrusive thoughts.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


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Edited by Babylona Bora